Business

Thumbnail image for Taxi Medallions: San Diego’s Licensing Program for Exploiting Immigrants

Taxi Medallions: San Diego’s Licensing Program for Exploiting Immigrants

by Doug Porter 04.17.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

By Doug Porter

While lots of local politicos are willing to give at least lip service towards increasing the minimum wage or creating affordable housing, the abject lack of interest in rectifying a government sponsored system of exploitation in the local taxi industry is staggering.

The medallion based system of licensing currently in place in San Diego, wherein drivers pay for the privilege of leasing a vehicle that may or may not be roadworthy, insures consumers of two things: scarcity of service and higher fares. This form of regulation might have made sense 80 years ago in New York city when it was started, but today a privileged few and the politicians they fund are the only beneficiaries.

Of all things revealed in a 2013 San Diego State University/Center for Policy Initiatives study–the unsafe working conditions, the dangerous vehicles, the exploitation of drivers–it would appear that Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s response will be limited to the vehicles themselves and, perhaps, record keeping issues.

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Thumbnail image for “We Are More Than Just Workers — We’re People.”

“We Are More Than Just Workers — We’re People.”

by Source 04.17.2014 Activism

By Lisa Maldonado Robinson/ Escondido Democratic Club

It takes an hourly wage of $13.09 and a full-time job to be able “to make ends meet” in San Diego County, according to Lisa Maldonado Robinson of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice (ICWJ). Robinson spoke to Escondido Democrats at their April 12 meeting about the ICWJ’s ongoing program in San Diego County in which religious leaders strive “to lift workers out of poverty.” The program has a North County component and Robinson described efforts to organize workers at Casino Pauma and Northgate Markets.

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Thumbnail image for UFW Co-Founder Calls for Citizen Action; Struggle Goes On, Dolores Huerta Says

UFW Co-Founder Calls for Citizen Action; Struggle Goes On, Dolores Huerta Says

by Source 04.05.2014 Activism

By Lindajoy Fenley/chicoSol

Celebrating a legendary man can be as simple — and as necessary — as signing up for health insurance.

That’s the message delivered by Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, when she spoke Thursday [March 24] at Sonoma State University (SSU) to a crowd of more than 1,000 students and community members in commemoration of Cesar Chavez Day.

Chavez, Huerta reminded her audience, fought for decent working conditions for California’s farm workers, and coincidentally, the deadline to sign up for government health insurance falls on his birthday, March 31. Huerta said that buying insurance — particularly for the young Latino students — is a way to honor the man who fought for civil rights for people of color.

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Thumbnail image for We Are the 89%: San Diego Fast-Food Employees and Religious Leaders Take Action Against Wage Theft

We Are the 89%: San Diego Fast-Food Employees and Religious Leaders Take Action Against Wage Theft

by Source 04.04.2014 Activism

Outrage grows as new poll shows stealing from employees is rampant industry wide

By Crystal Page/CPI

San Diego – Fast-food employees and community and faith leaders took action Thursday against systemic and illegal wage theft in the industry—just days after the first-ever national poll of fast-food employees showed companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are stealing money from 89 percent of their employees.

The action comes as two former McDonald’s managers spoke out for the first time about how they were forced to steal from employees’ checks. In a video made public Tuesday, the managers talk about how they shaved time off of employees’ schedules, among other practices, so they wouldn’t “blow labor,” or spend more than they were supposed to, on employees.

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Thumbnail image for “If I Could Sit Down with SeaWorld Executives, I Would Share My Vision …”

“If I Could Sit Down with SeaWorld Executives, I Would Share My Vision …”

by Source 04.04.2014 Activism

By Cara Wilson-Granat/ OBRag

If I could sit down with the Sea World executives, I would share my vision for their new park.

Since I’m an incurable optimist I believe that wishes do in time come true. I’ve dedicated my life to talking and writing about the power of hope — even when all seems so hopeless. Indeed, one of the most famous Holocaust survivors was the one who told me that “Even if the end of the world would be imminent, you still plant a tree today.” Those words were expressed to me years ago by the father of Anne Frank, Otto Frank. He gave me hope as he did a worldwide global family.

So surrounded by others who are strong believers in seeing a harmonious world for orcas, dolphins, indeed, all captive beings I appeal to Sea World to “sea” your next 50 years as the one we all wish to celebrate.

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Thumbnail image for When is a 99 Cent Store Really a Dollar Store?

When is a 99 Cent Store Really a Dollar Store?

by Judi Curry 04.04.2014 Business

By Judi Curry

I would rather go to the dentist than go shopping. I hate it. (Not that I like going to the dentist either.) But every now and then an opportunity presents itself that I cannot turn down. Such was the situation on March 26th, when my daughter Michele – whose middle name should have been “Nordstrom” – called me to say she was going to the 99 cent store in Clairemont and wanted to know if I wanted to go with her.

I love spending time with my three daughters, but seldom get the chance to be with Michele because she works so many hours. Plus, she drives a convertible, my favorite kind of vehicle. (Although by the time she picked me up it was after 5:00pm; it was windy and cold, and she had the top up.) She was planning a luncheon honoring the women that she works with – some 60+ – and was looking for a theme to decorate at least 10 tables for the event.

At least we weren’t going clothes shopping, or, even worse, shoe shopping. Because of the time of day, she decided that the Clairemont 99 cent store was the best because we would hit minimal traffic. The better stores are in the La Mesa/El Cajon area, but the traffic would be horrendous at that time of day.

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Thumbnail image for A Review of “Cesar Chavez” the Film: Sí, Se Puede

A Review of “Cesar Chavez” the Film: Sí, Se Puede

by Source 04.04.2014 Activism

By Byron Morton/ OBRag

Cesar Chavez shows the political evolution and the struggles of the man behind the movement during the 1960s to organize the farm workers in California. Through the United Farm Workers (UFW) Chavez (played by Michael Peña) brings bargaining rights and dignity for the impoverished farm workers. The UFW motto during this time was “Sí, se puede” or yes, it is possible.

It is important to remember at that time in the 1960s the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 did not protect farm workers and others. The Act “is a foundational statute of US labor law which guarantees basic rights of private sector employees to organize into trade unions, engage in collective bargaining for better terms and conditions at work, and take collective action including strikes if necessary.”

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Thumbnail image for UCSD Graduate Students Strike After Just Demands Not Met

UCSD Graduate Students Strike After Just Demands Not Met

by Source 04.03.2014 Activism

Strikers disrupt classes and block public thoroughfares to get a decent raise while upper level administrators continue to receive exorbitant salaries and enjoy a culture of lavish living

By Daniel Gutiérrez

Graduate students at the University of California, San Diego represented by the United Auto Workers Local 2865 initiated a two-day strike Wednesday, April 2nd, that will end Friday, April 4th. The strike at UCSD is part of a statewide action occurring at all the campuses of the University of California for these reasons. Graduate students have been bargaining for months now and have faced an unresponsive University of California Labor Relation bargaining team that barely allowed a 3% increase in pay to Teaching Assistants, still leaving them below the poverty line and far behind competitor universities.

Graduate students and undergraduate supporters began to assemble in front of the university’s emblematic library at 8:30 am to begin their activities. Students were able to successfully close Gilman Avenue for nearly twenty-five minutes in an attempt to cause delays for the city and school bus services.

Strikers created human barricades along a busy pedestrian avenue that cuts through the heart of the campus. Later in the afternoon, strikers attempted to storm the Office of Graduate Studies, but the office locked its doors to them and even one of their own employees.

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Thumbnail image for Extreme Weather Watch: March 2014

Extreme Weather Watch: March 2014

by John Lawrence 04.03.2014 Business

Winter Weather Made a $55 Billion Hit to US Economy

By John Lawrence

The winter of 2014 broke records and budgets. NBC News reported that the economy took a $55 billion hit because of the extreme winter weather. There was $5.5 billion in damage to homes, businesses, agriculture and infrastructure. Cities had additional costs for salt for roads and asphalt for potholes. There were more than 30,000 potholes in Toledo, OH alone. The companies that supply salt and asphalt are making a fortune. This winter also saw 79.3 inches of snow falling in Chicago where there were 23 days below zero.

In California drought covers 99.8% of the state. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which typically holds at least half of all the water that will flow to the state’s farms and cities each year, is at just one-fourth of its normal level.

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Thumbnail image for UCSD Graduate Students Protest Controversial Employment Policy

UCSD Graduate Students Protest Controversial Employment Policy

by Source 04.02.2014 Activism

Doctoral students rally against the 18 Quarter Limit

By Daniel Gutiérrez

La Jolla, California — Students at the University of California, San Diego stormed the Office of Graduate Studies Tuesday, April 1, to protest a controversial employment policy implemented across the University of California. The “18 Quarter Limit” restricts doctoral students by only allotting them 18 quarters to be teaching assistants, readers, or graduate student researchers. Such positions, if secured, reduce a graduate student’s tuition from roughly $5,200 a quarter to a mere $196. The action came on the eve of the two-day strike that will be held April 2nd and 3rd at UCSD.

The 18 Quarter Limit greatly affects graduate students who begin their studies in MA programs and then transfer to doctoral programs. This is because their access to funding begins to expire after their first quarter in the university as Master’s students.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Fast-Food Workers Hit by Wage Theft to Hold Action

San Diego Fast-Food Workers Hit by Wage Theft to Hold Action

by Source 04.02.2014 Activism

Outrage grows as new poll shows stealing from employees is rampant industry wide 

By Center on Policy Initiatives

Fast-food workers and community and faith leaders will hold an action Thursday against systemic and illegal wage theft in the industry—just days after the first-ever national poll of fast-food workers showed companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are stealing money from 89 percent of their employees. 

The action comes as two former McDonald’s managers speak out for the first time about how they were forced to steal from workers’ checks. In a video made public Tuesday, the managers talk about how they shaved time off of workers schedules, among other practices, so they wouldn’t “blow labor,” or spend more than they were supposed to, on workers. 

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Thumbnail image for Big Data Renders College Diplomas Worthless; Billionaires Nonplussed

Big Data Renders College Diplomas Worthless; Billionaires Nonplussed

by John Lawrence 04.01.2014 Business

By John Lawrence

It used to be accepted without question that a college degree was necessary to get a good job, and over the course of a lifetime, you would make more money with a college degree than without one. But not so fast. Despite the propaganda put out by colleges who hope to profit off your matriculation, it turns out that the latest thing in hiring practices is to disregard the college degree altogether.

Companies like Xerox are hiring not based on your resume, which includes your degrees and work experience, but on a test they’ve devised which they claim is a better predictor of job performance. Xerox runs 175 call centers around the world. In all, the centers employ more than 50,000 customer service agents who deal with questions about everything from cellphone bills to health insurance.

Xerox was having a problem hiring the right people for the jobs and reducing turnover. So they hired a company to help them do a better job of finding the right people. This company studied the characteristics of those people already at Xerox who were successful at their jobs and came up with a test whose aim was to find new applicants with exactly those same characteristics.

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Thumbnail image for If César Chávez Were Alive Today, He Would Join the Resistance Against Walmart

If César Chávez Were Alive Today, He Would Join the Resistance Against Walmart

by Source 03.31.2014 Activism

By Sarita Gupta / Alternet

This month, a new film documenting César Chávez’s historic campaign to organize farmworkers in America was released in time with what would have been his 87th birthday. Chávez rose to prominence as a founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW), where he organized thousands of poor Latino workers laboring in fields throughout central California.

Through nonviolent but aggressive tactics — many of which we’ve seen revived today — Chávez and the UFW successfully won higher wages, safer working conditions, and collective bargaining rights for generations of farmworkers, culminating in the passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975.

So as we celebrate the legacy of this historic leader, we must also pause to consider that today farmworkers — and others laboring for low wages along the food supply chain — are still struggling. Back then, Chávez and his supporters famously camped outside grocery stores to encourage shoppers to boycott grapes until conditions and wages improved. But today, instead of a grocery store, he may indeed have been standing outside of a Walmart.

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Thumbnail image for What’s with All Those Protests at SeaWorld?

What’s with All Those Protests at SeaWorld?

by Source 03.29.2014 Activism

By Barb Dunsmore / Special from the OB Rag

When it comes to impassioned feelings about SeaWorld, most readers of the OB Rag are well aware that much has recently been written, discussed, filmed, and documented. The world began to take notice with the release of Gabriella Cowperthwaite’s documentary Blackfish. It started with ripples of awareness that have now become waves of deep concern. The worldwide anger the movie unleashed is nearly impossible to ignore.

While SeaWorld was celebrating their 50th anniversary last Friday [March 21], everyday citizens, myself included, were standing on Sea World Drive protesting 50 years of inhumane captivity, drawing attention to what we, and a growing number of people around the world see as a new vision for SeaWorld: the recently proposed California Captive Orca Welfare and Safety Act – AB 2140. A new vision that could be a win-win for the orcas and SeaWorld alike, where the orcas would finally be free from the confines and cruel control inflicted upon them daily.

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Thumbnail image for And Why Shouldn’t the Government Force Corporations to Cover Abortion?

And Why Shouldn’t the Government Force Corporations to Cover Abortion?

by Source 03.29.2014 Business

By David Atkins / Hullabaloo

Justice Anthony Kennedy, on whose vote the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS case rests, seems very concerned about the government forcing corporations to cover abortion:

WASHINGTON, DC — Justice Anthony Kennedy thinks gay people are fabulous. All three of the Supreme Court’s most important gay rights decisions were written by Justice Kennedy. So advocates for birth control had a simple task today: convince Kennedy that allowing religious employers to exempt themselves from a federal law expanding birth control access would lead to all kinds of horrible consequences in future cases — including potentially allowing religious business owners to discriminate against gay people.

Kennedy, however, also hates abortion.

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Thumbnail image for The Small Business Owner’s Case for a Higher Minimum Wage

The Small Business Owner’s Case for a Higher Minimum Wage

by Source 03.27.2014 Business

By Jay Porter / jayporter.com

I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but around these parts there’s a strong movement forming to raise the minimum wage. Most of the municipal proposals are in the $10-13/hour range, but the zeitgeist seems to be heralding a $15/hour minimum wage.

People getting paid more for their work is a heartwarming notion, so it can be pretty easy to get behind these proposals on an emotional level. Economically, one sees macroeconomic cases made both for and against a higher minimum wage. I haven’t found the arguments in either direction particularly compelling. At the small business owners’ level, I hear from people both in favor and against raising the minimum wage.

But who are we kidding – most people are going to give or withhold their support for this initiative based largely on their perceived self-interest. So here’s my self-interest — as a small business owner, I selfishly think a higher minimum wage is great for me. Make it $15 an hour. Make it $20. The higher, the better, at least until dishwashers get paid as well as office workers.

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Thumbnail image for Big Banks’ ATM Fees Rip Off $19 Million from Welfare Recipients

Big Banks’ ATM Fees Rip Off $19 Million from Welfare Recipients

by Source 03.27.2014 Activism

By gloriasb/dailykos

Big banks lifted more than $19 million out of the wallets of poor people in California in 2012, by charging them unnecessarily high fees for withdrawing cash from their EBT [Electronic Benefit Transfer] cards.

That’s the conclusion reached by a just-released study of ATM fees charged to Californians who receive benefits under CalWORKS –the state’s public-assistance system. The study was conducted by the California Reinvestment Coalition [CRC], an organization that advocates for the right of low-income communities and communities of color to have fair and equal access to banking and other financial services.

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Thumbnail image for City Council Makes First Step Towards Raising the Minimum Wage in San Diego

City Council Makes First Step Towards Raising the Minimum Wage in San Diego

by Doug Porter 03.25.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The room was packed yesterday for a meeting of the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee as Councilman Todd Gloria successfully gained approval to draft ballot language on a measure proposed for the November ballot raising the minimum wage and granting paid sick leave for San Diegans.

Gloria will consult with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and bring the measure back for consideration by the committee on April 30th. We can only hope the City Councilman president has the language double-checked by an outside attorney who doesn’t have a vested ideological interest in the measure failing.

A coalition of faith-based, community and labor groups called Raise Up San Diego! turned out over 100 people carrying neon green signs expressing support for the concept yesterday. They’ll need to keep the pressure on until the full council takes a vote (no later than the end of August) for the measure to appear on the ballot.

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Thumbnail image for Outgoing CEO Paul Jacobs to Shareholders: Tell Your Congressman to Give Qualcomm a Tax Break!

Outgoing CEO Paul Jacobs to Shareholders: Tell Your Congressman to Give Qualcomm a Tax Break!

by John Lawrence 03.25.2014 Business

By John Lawrence

In his final message after more than eight years as chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), Paul Jacobs on March 4 gave shareholders what he called a “homework assignment.” “Send your Congress people your opinion that you’d like American companies to be able to bring offshore money back to the United States to either reinvest or return to shareholders”, said Jacobs, now executive chairman of the San Diego based chipmaker, which has $21.6 billion in overseas profits.

Paul could have said, “Go home and hug your wife and children” or “It’s been a pleasure being your CEO for 8 years and thank you for your work.” Or “tell your Congressman to raise the minimum wage” or “tell your Congressman to end homelessness now”, but, no, his solipsistic exhortation was all about making Qualcomm executives and shareholders (not employees mind you!) even richer than they already are.

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Thumbnail image for Three Years, Three Million Dollars, Three Excuses and Now, Three More Months for Failed Balboa Park Centennial Group

Three Years, Three Million Dollars, Three Excuses and Now, Three More Months for Failed Balboa Park Centennial Group

by Doug Porter 03.24.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Board members with the failed Balboa Park Celebration, Inc.(BPCI) have taken their case to KPBS, blaming ex-mayor Bob Filner, the failure of Plaza de Panama parking plan and the competing agendas of park organizations for their group’s lack of accomplishments.

Details revealed in the first of a two part series, including comments from co-chair Nikki Clay, Stephen Russell and Patti Roscoe, by reporter Angela Carone paint a sad picture of the planning and preparations for a year long centennial celebration.

The release on Friday of a Transition Agreement empowering BPCI staffer Gerry Braun to handle shutdown of the organization (and collect another $39,000 while doing so) has just added to outrage felt by those in the community already upset with the group.

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Thumbnail image for Special Report: Get Ready for the Anti-Minimum Wage Tsunami of Lies in San Diego

Special Report: Get Ready for the Anti-Minimum Wage Tsunami of Lies in San Diego

by Doug Porter 03.21.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Sometime over the next couple of months the San Diego City Council will consider a ballot measure for November raising the minimum wage. Although California has already enacted legislation boosting the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $9 next July and $10 by January 2016, research by the Center on Policy Initiatives indicates those raises fall way short of the $13 per hour wage necessary to live here without government assistance.

Raising the minimum wage polls well with the public. Just last week a limited advisory referendum urging the Chicago City council to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour (for corporations with over $50 million in annual sales) passed with an overwhelming 87% approval. Nationally a variety of surveys indicate two thirds of voters favor increasing the mandated minimums.

Today we’ll take a look at how business interests both nationally and locally are working to defeat increases in pay for low wage workers. Given that  a significant number of San Diegans were naive enough to believe that the US Navy was preparing to leave town (the Barrio Logan referendum), the downtown clowns who perpetrated that falsehood can be expected to roll out the mother of all shock and awe campaigns as fall approaches.

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Thumbnail image for Corporate Welfare and the Minimum Wage

Corporate Welfare and the Minimum Wage

by Source 03.21.2014 Business

By Joslyn Stevens / Common Dreams

The arguments against raising the minimum wage are bullshit. The majority of Americans including conservatives support an increase yet congress continues to drag its feet on doing right by the people they claim to serve.  The conservative “pull-yourself up-by your-bootstraps” mentality has become an acceptable excuse to justify kicking people when they’re down.

The greedy and elitist attitudes of CEO’s and bankers have created a culture of entitlement in this country in which stealing from others less powerful is the best way to get to the top regardless of the social cost.

The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009  despite cost of living increases and the fact that Americans are being forced to get by on less pay, food stamps, unemployment, savings etc. Every resource the working poor needs to stay afloat or get ahead is gone or disappearing.

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Thumbnail image for Vladimir P’s Got Nothing on Bonnie D –  Spin to Win Charged in Deputy DAs’ Unanimous Endorsement

Vladimir P’s Got Nothing on Bonnie D – Spin to Win Charged in Deputy DAs’ Unanimous Endorsement

by Doug Porter 03.18.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Vladimir Putin may know how to rig an election, as his minions probably did in pulling off 97% approval for Crimean secession from the Ukraine this past weekend, but District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis know how to spin one: don’t bother with actual votes, just claim a unanimous victory.

Following a February vote from the San Diego Deputy District Attorneys Association, the Dumanis campaign issued a press release declaring, “Deputy District Attorneys Announce Unanimous Endorsement of DA Bonnie Dumanis, ” followed by “BREAKING: Deputy DAs unanimously endorse Dumanis” on Twitter.

UT-San Diego ran with a story saying that the board of the Deputy DAs Association unanimously endorsed the incumbent.

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Thumbnail image for Haven’t We Met Before?

Haven’t We Met Before?

by Source 03.18.2014 Business

By Norma Damashek

In response to requests I received for the names of people I alluded to in last week’s commentary Too Many Years of Inbreeding I’m providing a list of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s recent appointees, plus a brief description of who they are.

Many names will be familiar to those of you who have been following city affairs over the years.  For others, the people on this list may not ring a bell; like the city’s water and sewer pipes they tend to operate beneath the surface.  But their organizational interconnectedness and crossovers are readily identifiable by one and all.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido Charter Proposal Offers Few Benefits, Many Hazards

Escondido Charter Proposal Offers Few Benefits, Many Hazards

by Source 03.17.2014 Business

By Rick Moore /Escondido Democratic Club

City charters offer few benefits and many hazards, according to Kyle Krahel-Frolander, who spoke to Escondido Democrats at their March 2014 meeting. Krahel-Frolander is a Community Outreach Coordinator for Smart Cities Prevail, a California non-profit that provides information, research and education on how prevailing wage standards on public construction projects benefit taxpayers, local governments and working families.

Krahel-Frolander, who hails from Oceanside and worked as an aide to Council member Esther Sanchez when that city changed to charter status, monitors charter city proposals in Southern California.

Most California cities are created under state law and are known as “general law” cities. About one-third of California cities, including most larger cities, switched to charter city status in the past, when there were significant differences between the powers granted to charter cities.

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